Don’t be dick to yourself – and other New Year resolutions

On New Year’s Eve, our group started talking about resolutions. My friend Michael asked me about mine. I proudly said, “I resolve not to have any resolutions.” to which he said, “but that is a resolution.” and I was all “Well, shit.”

As I’ve said before, me making a list of resolutions is like me making a list of things I’ll only get worse at/not do. But this doesn’t stop me from thinking about them. And they’re always the same goals/desires:

  • spend more time pursuing dreams, less time worrying about day job
  • eat better so my arteries won’t crap out by the time I’m 50
  • move more so I don’t go into cardiac arrest when I’m climbing stairs; also so pants will stop not fitting
  • take better care of my skin so I won’t look like I’m still in puberty
  • read more so I don’t rot my brain
  • do more so I don’t one day die with regrets (spoiler alert: likely to happen no matter what I do)
  • make a billion dollars so I can stay home and not have to worry about putting on real pants

2016 was, for the most part, an extremely hard year. Going into January, I was super confident. I thought, “this is going to be a good year. I have my new, awesome job where I get to contribute creatively and work with great people, my hair is growing out (this is important), my office is organised, I have a writing plan, and everything will be gravy. I’m happy, I’m content, and I feel like I’m on the right track.”

And then, it hit me. I woke up on the last day of my Christmas holiday with an unshakable sense of impending doom. And on January 4 I woke up in an anxiety attack that didn’t dissolve for almost a week. So I went back to the doctor for a benzo script, after close to two years of not needing xanax. And that sucked.

I thought I was just anxious because we had a big month at work coming up – there was a lot at stake, so I was nervous/excited to be a part of it. But January blurred into February and February blurred into March. March blurred into April. April into May. It never got easier. I wasn’t sleeping without having nightmares. I dreaded every single day. And at some point I came to and realised that all my savings had been burned through, the apartment was constantly a mess, our bills were late, and I found myself paralysed without my phone, jumping at every notification as if someone’s life depended on it. It was easier to count the days that didn’t end in some form of panic. Every weekend included some sort of sobbing breakdown, either to Joel or to my Mom or in text messages to my friends. I just couldn’t control myself.

It was hard to admit to myself that I was back in a shit place. I spent so much of 2015 in denial that I was so homesick it spun me into depression, and there I was, robbed of 6 months because I refused to admit defeat. I mean, I knew I was good at standing in my own way, but it turns out I’m really good at putting myself in harm’s way to prove a point to no one.

After I quit my job and took some time off, I realised my two rough patches were the result of me pushing myself for a career that I knew I wasn’t suited for, but that I felt I needed to be suited for, and thusly wouldn’t let myself quit.  I realised I have to listen to my own red flags – it doesn’t matter how cool your job is, how awesome the people you work with are, if the stress makes you go back on medication and back into therapy, it’s not a good fit.

So this year, I would like to focus on one things only:

do not be a passive aggressive asshole to self

And really, that’s it. I don’t think of this as a resolution, because it’s not like losing 20lbs or drinking less alcohol. It’s the “be kind to yourself” bullshit that’s not actually bullshit but a really important life skill.

Naturally, I want to develop better habits and achieve things, too. But I’m not going to make a giant posted list, because I’ll feel like I have to achieve them all RIGHT NOW or I’ll be a failure. So I’m going to take it one step at a time and you know – not be an asshole to myself about it. I need to get myself to a place of stability and consistency before I can stack myself full of expectations and plans.

I’m taking this year one month at a time. For January, my goal was to find a more interactive writer’s group and a class of some sort. I got the Master Class for Christmas and I’ve already started it, so now all I need to do is find an additional group to join. I don’t know what my goal is for February, because I haven’t gotten there yet. That’s February’s problem.

See? I’m already applying my resolution. (ha)

ALL THAT BEING SAID – here are things that Joel and I plan to make happen and that I’m REALLY EXCITED ABOUT for 2017:

  • ADOPTING A DOG
  • Taking driver’s safety course and getting more experience on the road so that we can
  • Go on non-staycation holiday! (although Joel and I had 4 uninterrupted days together for the first time in 2 years and it was fabulous. I’d rather have the time in the Blue Mountains or on a beach somewhere tho)
  • ADOPTING A DOG
  • Upgrading to a queen size bed
  • ADOPTING A DOG
  • Becoming an Australian resident and finally putting all the visa jibba jabba behind us (fingers crossed this happens around July)
  • ADOPTING A DOG
  • Investing more time in myself
  • ADOPTING A DOG (my biological clock is barking)
  • make a billion dollars so I can stay home and not have to worry about putting on real pants

I mean, not having to put real pants on every day is the dream.

Set the bar high, folks. And be nice to yourself.

Happy 2017!

 

 

On the Road Again (or, for the first time)

I remember my very first time on the open road. I turned 15 and 9 months – the state of Maryland’s minimum age for obtaining your learner’s permit – and scored my learner’s permit on the first try. Continue reading “On the Road Again (or, for the first time)”

Ticket to ride

After 2ish years of avoiding the Australian equivalent of the DMV, I finally got my Australian Driver’s license.

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My real license, complete with Extra Terrible Photo arrives in a few weeks. Whee!

 

I’m not sure why I put it off for so long – maybe I was equal parts scared of waiting in line forever at the Service Centre, taking a right handed drive driver’s test, and maybe it was all just WHAT IF A HUNTSMAN GETS IN MY CAR?! (this happened to me with spiders in the States a few times, it’ll sure as shit happen here. Just much bigger.) Also we have public transport and I’ve really been enjoying not having a car payment or related wallet-crushing expenses.

But the wheels went in motion the other night as Joel and I were having our 500th conversation about when we should get a dog. And he might have said “We can get a dog when you get your license, because we’ll need a car to take him places.” And I might have had my application filled out and ready to go the next day.

(#motivation)

And today, we got an unexpected early release from work, so I found the Service Centre that’s about 6 minutes away from our place and walked on over. I waited about 5 minutes, showed a few documents and my application, took a 10 second eye test, took yet another ID photo where I look like a meth-faced criminal who can’t decide which gender he identifies with (seriously, I look like a man in all but 2 of my ID photos. Thanks for the strong genes, Dad.), and $56 and 10 minutes later I was out the door, with my unrestricted license (albeit temporary) in hand.

That’s it? That’s it. No road test, no knowledge test – nothing. I have never driven in the right side driver’s seat and I haven’t even sat behind the wheel of a car in over 2 years. Don’t they know I’m American? And that I learned to drive in Maryland, home of nationally renowned terrible drivers? So this will surely be exciting. And now that I have my license, Joel can finish is permit (#citykids). So, double exciting.

I can’t wait for more road trip adventures and not waiting for the bust to take us to the beach and most importantly – GETTING A DOG PAL! Well, one day.

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vroooooooooooom

Summer goals: 1 down, 100 to go!

 

H+M – the Agony and the Ecstasy

Hello, my name is Audrey, and I am an H+M addict.

2003: I was 18. I was a seasoned mallrat, and I had a circuit of all my favourite haunts. But this day, I was with my sister when we spotted a new store – H+M. It was so white – white tiles, white walls, bright lighting, soft music, no posters and adverts – absolutely nothing flashy. It stood in direct defiance to the darkly painted, heavily decorated, loud and colourful sale posters, and blaring music of the stores around it. In fact – it looked like a cheap department store. Except for the clothes – which when compared to my wardrobe of Deliah’s, Pacific Sunwear, and Forever21, were basically the coolest clothes I had ever seen. AND they were cheap – $14.99 for a hoodie, not $39.99? Retro designed tops with vintage reprinted fabric for $18.99? Dresses for $24? WHERE AM I?

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Circa 2003: Me with the very first top I bought at H+M (also me with my parents)

There were clothes everywhere in the shop – all over the walls, on racks all over the floor, just everywhere – all arranged by colour. It was overwhelming and so exciting all at the same time. I’m pretty sure it took me close to two hours to make it all the way through the shop, and I left from that first trip with about $150 worth of clothes. And lo, I had a new favourite place to shop.

2004: I was 19, and I applied for my first credit card – in an attempt to start building my credit history. I was an unemployed college student and I received a brand spankin’ new platinum Master Card with a $3,000 limit.

“I will spend a little bit, once a month, and immediately pay it off. Otherwise, this is for emergencies only.”

Also known as, my most infamous last words.

Over the next three years, my depression spiked, and coincidentally, so did my shopping habits. And H+M became my go-to place of solace. Since what little paycheck I had went to school, my car, going to the movies, and travel expenses, I rarely had money for spending on myself. So I used my credit card. I mean, why pay for something immediately when I can pay for it over the course of 6 years – with exorbitantly high interest rates? And yes, I could make “He didn’t call me tonight – he never calls me so I shouldn’t be surprised but I’m still disappointed” into a use the credit card emergency.

My closet (and dresser, and floor), were littered with H+M goods – most of them with the tags still attached. It got to the point where my friends stopped going in with me, because they didn’t want to support my “problem.” I knew I wasn’t making the best choices, and that I didn’t need that many clothes, and that I wasn’t even wearing half of them, and that I wouldn’t get around to returning them, and that I was sublimating my depression for shopping, but damn I had some cool clothes and that’s really all that mattered – right?

2006: I was 21, and I was on the phone with someone from my credit card company. I was getting the news that I ran my credit card up and over it’s limit – and that I now owed a $667.86 payment in order to bring it back to order. My final balance was $10,667.86. Just on that card. I had 2 others that added up to about $1,200.00. Nearly $11k in credit card debt. I hung up my phone and crawled into fetal position, where I stayed for the next 10 years.

It took about 4 years for me to pay all the cards off. And another 3ish years to pay off my emergency card when I ran THAT one up again. And again.

Somewhere in that time, I revoked ALL my H+M privileges. I knew what I was – an addict. As an alcoholic can’t be around booze, and opiate addicts have to take Tylenol when they break a bone, I can’t walk into an H+M without wanting, needing, to buy everything. It was a crazy, gnawing, almost physically painful obsessive feeling, this need to purchase something and take it home with me. So I just cut it out of my life – cold turkey.

I had 3 years of H+M sobriety, and I felt really good about it. I could walk past an H+M without immediately diving in. If I did go inside, I browsed through the racks without the obsessive feelings, and I tried things on and didn’t buy them. But if I did buy something, it was something I needed, and I never put it on my credit card. If there was a chip for H+M Sobriety, I would totally have it.

Today though – today was a different story. I was out with Joel’s mum for a girl’s afternoon, and I finally got the chance to wander around the new 3 story H+M at the Pitt Street Mall. She mentioned that she wanted to buy me a couple of things for my birthday since we were here, and she was going to get me a voucher anyway. And I instantly thought I CAN BUY STUFF HERE.

uh-oh.

I had the urge to GET IT ALL, I NEED IT, JUST LOAD IT INTO MY BAGS. After 2 hours, I had at least 40 items to try on, delirious with the end of year sale items and all mustard gold coloured things and all the $15 high-waisted super stretch pants (omg did I really just put that on the internet). In my delirium, everything fit like a dream and I saw infinite outfit combinations with everything I already owned and oh I can patch that up and I can lose some weight to fit into this dress better. All I needed was a bubble bath full of foam and I would have reached Alex at the end of A Clockwork Orange levels of euphoria. 

I was plotting ways to afford my bounty when caught myself thinking “Well, I could just put it on my credit card and pay it off slow–” and that’s when I crashed. I looked around and just felt ashamed. Yes, I need some professional clothes that fit, but I didn’t need all of this. And I sure as hell didn’t need to put it ANY of it on my credit card. Sadly, the delirium cleared. I had a stack of clothes that wouldn’t match anything I already owned – besides jeans. I had colours that I never wear once I buy them. And when have I ever lost weight just to fit into a dress I bought 2 sizes too small because it was the only size available? And these pants definitely give me camel toe. The dream burst, and the hangover was intense. I cherry picked the best items, what would fit in with the clothes I already had, what I could see myself wearing in the future, and most importantly – what I could afford. I did buy a $7 dress that was way too short for me JUST because, but everything else was amazingly practical.

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ok, I also got this pillbox cat ear hat. But it’s already brought both of us $10 worth of kitty-hat happiness, so money well spent. 

My heart was breaking as I stood in line to pay for my stuff, and I could hear myself saying “go get those flannel button downs!! You can afford it! This time you won’t throw them out at the beginning of summer!” All the lingering “what if’s” and “but only’s” were painful. We left the store with my bag, and I realised that was my very last H+M trip. I can’t go back.

It goes to show – an addict can’t do a little bit of heroin. And I can’t do a little bit of H+M.

Next on the goal block: STOP BUYING ALL THE CLOTHES.

Independence Day

DSCF4844
FREEDOM

Independence Day feels strange when you’re living in a country still tethered to the government your fore-fathers pulled the ultimate teenage angst card against. But everyone was super polite to me and wished me a Happy 4th of July and asked me what type of meat I was eating in celebration.

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The answer – hot dog party, which I renamed Freedom Slop in honour of the holiday.

I celebrated by omitting the extra “u” in my emails, and replacing the “s” with “z” like a real patriot – because that’s the freedom that my afore mentioned fore-fathers truely fought for.

This year’s Independence Day was a tad more symbolic than usual, as I also celebrated by leaving my job. I came to the decision after a lot (like, a lot a lot) of consideration and thinking and planning and exhausting every option I could to make things better. But after some difficult months, and with the insights of therapy, it was apparent that I needed to make a change. I can’t keep living in a bubble of anxiety, torn between what I feel I should  be doing, and what I need to be doing. It’s hard not to feel like I failed, since it was a glam job with a cool title, but I’m just reminding myself that it’s better to pull the rip cord than to crash into the ground.

So I’m taking some time to get my shit together, re-focus, and figure out how to do what I really want to do – write, entertain, and make a difference in people’s lives. Helping and entertaining people make me feel like I’m doing something worthwhile. Whenever I get a comment from a stranger that my blog made them laugh, or when someone says they like my work, it makes my life.  I want to do that, all the time. I want to make that connection and give people a bit of respite from the daily grind. I know what it’s like, to read something that just makes me feel better, makes me want to hug the author, and I want to inspire that kind of feel goodery. I would say “I just want to touch people” but that probably puts me on some kind of FBI watch list*.

 

And so, I’m making my 816th pledge to get my shit together and work toward my actual life goal: writing. With every year that passes with excuse after excuse after excuse for not working toward my dream, I hate myself a little more. And I’m sick of the same old hating myself shtick.  I want to find that writing inspiration I had back in January and then again in April and find a way to make it last.

It’s going to happen. This time, I feel it.

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*whoooops

 

Waiting for the Butter to Soften

Last week, I set out to make cookies. And by set out, I mean I had a sudden attack of restlessness and felt an obsessive need to make something – anything – just as long as it involved measuring and baking. I landed on cookies because they’re the easiest thing to make when I’m scattered and NEED TO DO SOMETHING. Thus, I set out to make easy, no fail, made them 500x, have the recipe memorised chocolate chip cookies.

I didn’t have a lot of chocolate chips, and only half the butter I needed, so instead of going to the store (which would take too long), I decided to only make half a recipe. I weighed the butter and cut it into cubes. I knew the butter wasn’t soft enough and if I didn’t wait an hour, I’d make a giant mess of sugar and butter crumbs when I tried to cream it (oh, the perils of hand mixers and shallow mixing bowls). So I waited maybe 5 minutes while I measured everything else and prepped the pans. And then I couldn’t wait any longer so I got to creaming.

As predicted, butter and sugar went flying. Instead of waiting for the butter to soften, I mashed it with the potato masher, and tried to “fold” the sugar into the butter. It still made a mess. Instead of waiting for it to soften again, I added a bit of milk. Bingo. The sugar and butter creamed without making a mess, and I didn’t have to wait an hour (even though by this point I had already wasted another 15-20 minutes). I mixed in the dry ingredients, the chocolate chips, and scooped them into the pan.

I thought something was strange when the dough was sticking to my fingers, and not really staying in a ball like shape. That’s weird, but whatever. I put the pan in the oven to bake, and 10 minutes later, was welcomed to this:

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sexy.

A burned disc of butter sugar shit. And the next pan was the same.

The disappointment was palpable.

I quickly realised what happened – in my ADD MILK haste, I needed to compensate with a bit more flour – which I didn’t. I also chopped it up to being bad at math and not reducing the ingredients correctly. I reduced the flour from 2 1/4 cups to 1 cup, 2 tbsp, which Google and a quick fact check by Leah confirmed was correct. But later that evening when I was washing up, I discovered that I used a 1/2 cup measure that I thought was a 1 cup measure. So really, I’m good at math, and bad at reading.

Small mistake. It sucks. If you’ve been following along the blog recently, I haven’t exactly been batting a thousand this year. I’ve felt more way failure than win, like a lot more failure. And as I looked at this pan of greasy, dried elephant dung that I created, something that I’m normally amazing at, and yes, shamefully scooping it up with a fork and eating it in much the same manner as the way a dog eats its own vomit, I knew I really need to get my own shit together.

I make small mistakes that avalanche into big mistakes because I rush. Because I’m ridiculously anxious and impulsive. It’s OMG I HAVE TO DO THIS NOW I DON’T CARE IF IT’S NOT READY inside my head and then FUCK WHY DIDN’T I JUST DO THAT THING I NEEDED TO DO when it turns out badly. It was like this pan of baked diarrhea was a direct metaphor for my life – hurrying and making small mistakes just to get it done rather than taking the time to do it right.

If my internal failure cycle were an Ouroboros, it would look like this:

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artist’s rendering

 

It’s a vicious, vicious cycle. Anxiety > Rush/Stall > Small Mistake Avalanche > Fail

Most of the time, I’m of the “OMG, I really need to do this, but I see these issues will prevent this from being the best it can be, so I’m going to take X step and X step so I don’t make a mistake.” persuasion. For the past few months though, I’ve just overlooked all of that so I can get something done and feel some sort of personal gratification or sense of accomplishment. I’ve fallen into this “oh it’s just a small mistake so it won’t matter” kind of thinking that just doesn’t work at all. Because small mistakes turn into an avalanche. So even if I’m accomplishing things, those things aren’t the best – or they’re just wrong. Which makes me feel like more of a failure.

And I’m desperate to learn how to derail the cycle. How to instil thoughtful, deliberate, mindful actions in everything I do, instead of rushing to get to the finish line. After all, I’m not winning any ribbons by finishing projects, goals, or baked goods that look like shit – literally.

So on Sunday, I decided I needed to regroup, since Saturday was a panicky waste of good breathable oxygen. So I made of list of everything I needed to do, gave myself time frames to do some chores while Skyping with Cara, get a giant chunk of work done, and then I went to the store to buy more cookie ingredients. This time, I measured everything carefully, I let my butter soften on the counter, I made way less of a mess, and the cookies turned out crispy on the edge, soft in the center, all over golden, and delish:

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I was even able to finish my weekend work with a little more satisfaction than I normally have. And I think it’s because I took my time to slowly and considerately do everything. The cycle of OMG GET IT DONE is a hard one to beat, and over the past week, I’ve realised I just need to take it one day at a time. Of just being careful and aware – I mean, I want to be HIGHLY AWARE, but I’ll accept general awareness and perseverance for now.

Basically, the point of this blog is I learned a lesson:

If you don’t wait for the butter to soften, you’ll end up with shit.

Also,

Eating half a pan of melted butter sugar dough will make your pants suddenly shrink over night.

#lifelessons

Rome wasn’t built in a day

AND I NEED TO REMEMBER THIS.

Patience isn’t one of my strong suits. I’m the person who gets irrationally irritated with slow internet, stop and go traffic, long lines, babysitting, making pancakes, etc. My lack of patience is one the biggest hurdles when it comes to getting better with myself. 

Take for example, this past week.

Between Sunday and Monday I had a few big talks and I felt like everything was going to be A-ok. Monday was fucking fantastic. I woke up feeling good, I had a good work day, I came home and everything was great – not a single panicked thought and no real worries. Then Tuesday. I woke up optimistic, and by the time I got in bed, I was numb and exhausted. Wednesday, more or less the same. Thursday, no panic attacks, but I felt on edge all day – in flight or fight mode so intense I could barely think straight. Friday, more of the same. I came home, ate fast food, took a shower, and crawled into bed at 8 PM with 2 books and The Wire. Saturday was great until about mid-day when the edge kicked in. I felt better by the end of the night, but there were some bad moments. Today has been touch and go. I did spend about 3 hours on the phone with my mom, which helped a lot.  

I start therapy this week, and I’m so relieved to be 4 days away from help that I could cry – well, everything has made me cry today (hooray anxiety + PMS), but this really makes me feel like I could cry. I feel like I’ve dug myself into such a hole that the slightest kick of dirt makes me curl up, ready to be buried. I feel worthless, overwhelmed, and like a big fat pile of sweatpants, fail, and panic. And I’m exhausted of going through each day feeling like I can’t make it. Even making lists – my go to worry reliever – makes my mind race.

It’s hard to convince myself that everything is going to be ok, even though I know it will be. It’s hard to believe that it won’t always be this hard. That I won’t always feel so far behind. That I won’t always feel so paralysed and scared. It’s difficult to see a light at the end of the tunnel because I’m so distracted by the now and how I’m not dealing with the now particularly well.

I need to make the half of me that knows I’ll be ok stronger than the part of me that hates myself and thinks it’ll never get better. And that takes time, it takes energy, and above all, it takes patience.

lord-beer-me-strength

Out of Shape

Every night as I’m falling asleep, I go over everything I did wrong that day.

And I mean – everything. I know that focusing on the negative is a guaranteed way to make me feel like shit, but hey – some depressive habits are hard to break.

Most of the time it’s things like “why did I eat a whole cake” or “why did I think it was a good idea to skip taking a shower” or “oh shit I forgot to call/email/schedule so and so” and “hey you didn’t work out – that’s the 362nd time this year.”.  But always, always, “why didn’t I write today?” “I should have blogged about that.” “I could have made a post about that.”

I make no secret of my Writer’s Block that somehow morphed into an utter Creative Block which then morphed into Near-Paralytic-Anxiety When Opening WordPress Block. I can blame it on work stress, self-esteem, watching too much TV, not having the right kind of fuzzy socks to wear – anything – but the bottom line is I allowed myself to get lazy. I let myself fall into the “it’s easier to watch re-runs of The Wire than it is to sit down for an hour and write. So now I’m not only physically out of shape, but I’m mentally out of shape. And it’s been a struggle to do anything that requires creative brain power.

I had a white hot flash of inspiration (RIP Miss Lee) in December when I re-vamped my work space and made a plan to get myself back on track (new stationery = mega inspiration). Then I got distracted with the move. Then we didn’t have internet. Then I was working 12-15 hour days. I had more excuses to not do anything than I knew what to do with.

But on Monday, I had a rough day. Just rough all around. And as I was going to bed, Joel and I were having a pow wow, and I realised yet again that I’m still not writing, still not working toward what I want to be. And I’m still unhappy about it. And then I said out loud, “I’m not even trying. And I haven’t tried. I’m upset with myself because I haven’t tried. And really, I could just stop. Just work forever and that’ll be it.” And I felt painfully unhappy.

And something finally snapped within me. I have to try. I have to force myself to make shit happen, because it obviously won’t happen on its own. Joel told me “just write. Write a story. Not a blog. What’s your story called?”
“uh… Tacos at Night”
“What’s it about?”
“I don’t know – a cat?”
“…ok. Write it.”

So I did. I got home from work the next day, changed, and sat down and wrote for an hour. I made Joel (who barely slept and worked a longer day than me) make dinner and barely said hi to him when he walked in. I didn’t write a blog. I didn’t write an essay. I didn’t do stream of consciousness. Or a prompt. I started a story. And it felt great.

As I went to bed, I felt good about myself. And I remembered this article I read about a writer who fell into a similar hole. She made a tiny writing area in her closet, and sat in there with just her typewriter for an hour a day and wrote. After a few weeks, she got back into the habit of thinking and working like a writer. The time constraints helped her a) bang out ideas, and b) stop before she got burnt out and deleted everything. And it wasn’t long until writing stopped being something she dreaded, and something she looked forward to.

Today, I got home from work, changed, ate dinner, and wrote for an hour on the same story. Then I broke out Illustrator and dusted off my tablet and played with that all night. It also feels pretty great.

So I’m making a new routine for myself. Writing for an hour every day – no more no less. I hope it leads to advances in that whole “more hustle; less sweat pants” resolution I made in January.

If I can keep this up over the weekend, maybe I’ll be able to keep it up for the rest of the month. And if I can keep it up for the rest of the month, WHO KNOWS what will happen. Maybe I can start working on some goals – like how many stories can I write every month? Will I ever get back into the ‘sending out pieces for submission’ stage of my life? But for now, baby steps.

Let’s get through tomorrow. And Friday.

And I have it documented here so I can feel nice and shamed if I fall off track. Woo!

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What’s the plan, Stan?

On Christmas night, Joel and I were beached on the couch in a combined food and Netflix coma. All week I’d been thinking how I was half shocked that the end of the year was almost here, and half shocked that it took so long to get here.

2015 went by in a blur. Until about mid-October, I went through the year like a slug, hitting salty patches and shriveling, and then taking a while to… un-shrivel? The beginning of the year wasn’t the greatest. I spent a lot of time trying to convince myself of a bunch of different things: that I wasn’t homesick; that it wasn’t hard to talk to my parents only once a week instead of nearly every day; that it wasn’t hard to not see my siblings and my friends; and that I wasn’t having a complete resurgence of near-crippling social anxiety. Trying to live in denial was exhausting, and it started to wear on Joel and me. With a lot convincing and talking, Joel helped me work through the hardest parts (with one or two crying phone calls to my mom on my lunch break – sometimes I’m a scared 7 year old). Things got better around March-April, but then I was faced with a job hunt. And the final steps of our visa application was hair raising. And I went through another difficult 3 months after getting a new job when I was broke and really struggling to stay positive.

SO yes – a few of downer moments, a few of meh moments, but that wasn’t all that happened. 2015 definitely had HEAPS of awesome. Joel and I rang in the New Year laughing, and I can say that it carried on throughout the year. Living with Joel is so much fun, that I’m always having a good time – even when I hate myself. It’s been a year of sweet gestures, laughing til we cry, lazy late mornings sharing comics, shared goals and support, learning how to cook, learning how to bake, many (too many, if you ask my expanding waist) wonderful Chinese take out meals, lots of little adventures, coffee dates in the park, Netflix binges, home building, and plan making. Joel even taught me basic photoshop magic and more tricks with my camera.

Also, on a totally important and not at all shallow note – I finally learned how to blow dry and curl my hair. And I learned how to apply liquid liner to my satisfaction in less than 7 minutes. I also learned that I will never wake up in time to do all three before work. Or get dressed properly. Or shower. I’ma do me.

So yes, while it doesn’t feel like I accomplished a lot, I did survive. Survival, employment, and a finished visa application. That’s what 2015 boiled down to.

So I was thinking about ALL of this as we were in the afore-mentioned beached whale state. And it got me thinking, “shit, there’s been a lot to distract me over the last few years.” Being lazy and easily distracted are my two worst traits. That and in my personal life, I can barely handle more than two things happening at once. There has been something significant to distract me from and to excuse me from achieving for the last few years. But I couldn’t think of what’s coming up in 2016. Like, what will distract me? What big thing do we have to plan or prepare for? So I brought it up with Joel.

“What’s happening next year?”
“What do you mean?”
“Like, what big thing is happening? In 2013, it was therapy and you + me and you coming to visit; in 2014 it was preparing to move and me finding a job in Sydney; in 2015 it was applying for the visa and us finding new jobs. What’s going to happen next year?”
“How about… we just live? Have good times.”

And I was all, #lightbulb – that’s a great idea.

How about a year with no excuses? A year of getting shit done. A year of working hard toward being who we want to be. A year of ta-da! A year to look back and be like, sheeeeeit. A year well spent. It’s been years since I’ve started a year with no Giant Thing to Plan Around in the forecast. I’m really excited to see what we can accomplish.

I just typed “but first, I’m going to take a nap.” and I deleted it. That’s how serious I am. But I will make a batch of the World’s Best Chocolate Chip cookie first.

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#seriouslyserious

On the Subject of Resolutions

I love the “fresh start” feeling that the New Year brings.

I am that person who, in the last week of December, is getting all AW YEAH NEW YEAR LETS DO THIS, standing in line at Target, buying a journal with the new year emblazoned on it, a brand new pair of yoga pants, salad fixins, and even a Nalgene bottle–because damnit, THIS YEAR I am going to exercise and eat better and drink more water and document my journey of self-discovery, consciously ignoring the fact that my journal from the current year is blank and collecting dust, and that I’m wearing this year’s yoga pants that have BBQ stains all over them. And, I am also that person who, by June is all “Wasn’t I supposed to be a better person this year?”

Basically, I’m just like you and every other First World New Year Resolution.

I know all too well that making a List of Things I Want to Change is essentially making a List of Things I’ll Keep Doing. Mostly because I have a tendency to make multiple step goals that involve changing way too much, way too soon, and way too often, and when I get overwhelmed and thrown off track by the 3rd week of January, I lose interest. And then I’m profoundly disappointed with myself by November. That doesn’t stop me from writing it all up in a big list, though. I love lists. I love the idea of one day crossing off every item. You know, one day when I develop a dedicated Type A personality.

Making endless lists is as Type A as I get.
Making endless lists is as Type A as I get.

This year’s list culminated in 31 resolutions/goals. 31! What the hell am I thinking? I am not Beyoncé.

whatever, internet.

But I was getting real serious with these goals. I started to break them down to realistically achievable goals, and categorize them and make time lines and give them Action/Completion dates (I’m really into Excel). I mean, I was making my old therapist proud. And then I checked Facebook (where dreams go to die), and my friend Anita posted an article about resolution making, and she said along with it, “Don’t make resolutions. Make better choices.” And I was all

well… obviously.

It’s one of those revelations that is so completely obvious that it makes you feel a bit like a turd that you didn’t come to it before. But really, that’s all it takes. I look at my New Year Shit list, and almost every single one of the 31 goals are about taking better care of myself and paying more attention to my life and hustling toward life goals. They’re about Making Better Choices. Thinking things out instead of acting impulsively. Considering before reacting. Being active, not lazy. Saving instead of spending. Chewing all my food before taking another bite. Etc.

So, my new list for the year has just one item: Make Better Choices. Even when every inch of me is straining for me to do the opposite, like today, when I wanted to push off blogging until tomorrow, but I’m doing it now. Or this morning, when I ordered eggs without cheese. Or last night, when I washed and moisturized my face when all I wanted to do was go to bed. Let’s not even talk about how I’m substituting olive oil for butter even though it makes my soul cry tears of infinite sadness.

I’m making 2015 a year of just being better and proactive. And for focusing on the little battles I’m winning, instead of dwelling on what I feel like I’m doing wrong–which in itself is making a better choice! So I’m gearing up for greatness, but accepting that sometimes greatness is small and personal. Like substituting olive oil for butter (this is serious).

So come on, 2015 LET’S DO THIS. LET’S BE BETTER.

I’ll report back in June. haha